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Greg Lukianoff Education. (2012) 'Unlearning Liberty Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Greg Lukianoff  Education.  (2012) 'Unlearning  
   Liberty Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.'  

    November 25, 2012
    7:00 - 7:45pm EST  

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updated versions of those things. we're finding that all over the world people want to learn english. >> host: if people want to donate to your project, what's the website? >> guest: www.dig-book.org. big-book.org. >> host: talking with professor stephen frantzich, the newest book, "oops: observing our politicians stumble," this is booktv on c-span2. ..
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discourage students from holding unpopular views. the author contends this environment is increased the country's and decreased civil discourse. it's about 45 minutes. [applause] >> thanks so much for having me. i was actually at that first conference here and we had randy barnett speaking right over there and it was exciting to be here for the inauguration as a former organization. so, i'm just going to start on a little bit of a personal note. it's a big month right now with
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the election and some of your friends of mine and some of you will be. i just got married on the 12th. [applause] i have a book come out on tuesday called unlearning liberty censorship and the american debate and i am leaving right after this for my high school reunion, 20 of high school reunion. i'm here to talk about the book and how free speech is curtailed on the american campus and how this has harmed us all whether we are all on campus or not. so, why did i write this? i rode unlearning liberty because i went to law school, i went to stanford specifically to study the first amendment. it's been a passion of mine my entire life. i believe it is in part i had a russian father and a british mother and i came from that background realizing that the rule had to be that everybody got to say what they wanted to under the circumstances. the idea that, like, the government could understand what
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you said so it would be my mom or my dad in charge. in the general society free-speech said be the rule coming and i've always believed that. and so the history of the first amendment law we every class stanford offered indicted six additional credits of my own design on the history of the freedom of speech and despite all of that, i was utterly unprepared for the kind of cases i would see on the college campuses. utterly unprepared. and to dhaka little bit about this this is one of the reasons i wrote the book because it feels like banging my head against bill wall i'd been writing articles about this for my entire career, and i started getting people coming back to me saying well, okay, sure. students get in trouble for almost anything and campuses have speeches and people don't talk to each other because they're afraid they will get in trouble. sure, what's the big deal? and i just found that a
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terrifying question to be asked. and unlearning liberty is my response to the argument of why does free speech on college campuses matter. so to begin with, what i am talking about the book opens with of the example of an environmentalist student. he's a decorated emt. we studied the same kind of buddhism, he's a believer in non-aggression and it environmentalist. she was protesting a parking garage for environmental reasons on campus. he thought it was more environmentally friendly ways to do with these problems on campus so she wrote an op-ed about it and this very much anchors the university. apparently a couple months before something similar had happened and is stopped him from getting his passion project in
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the parking garage established. so he had hayden come to his office, how can you be doing this to me? and he gave it to him for being a responsible student living his opinions be known. this is about the state university in georgia, a public university bound by the first amendment. little did hayden know that they started looking into his background. and this all came out in discovery during the case. he ordered that they look into hayden's religion and a psychological record data that they look into his medical records. to make the case for punishing the student or kicking him out. hayden was a little bit upset that he got such a bad dressing down by the president, and so in protests he made a collage that he put on facebook that included
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no blood for oil, all the concepts he thought would happen in this parking garage. and he called it the environmentalist group on campus that he thought was falling on the job. the zakaria memorial parking garage, the joke being that this president thought this would be part of his legacy, his memorial. the university, which was, as i said zakaria was already looking for an excuse to kick hayden out of school and she seized on this. he flips a note from the university slips a note under hayden's door claiming this proved with the collage attached to it proving that hayden was now a clear and present danger to the campus. the collage was stapled to the note and if anybody wants to think seriously they felt the student was a threat, a decorated emt dever, non-aggression, not a threat, but they didn't even believe he was a threat because if they
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think someone is about to go postal you don't slip in under his door. [laughter] so, we open the look and talk still going on in the courts by the way. he's kind of gotten used to it at the universities. we also talked at length about the case of the university of delaware. it's on the right side of the history on the right side of our moral issues defended to this day and the mandatory programs that you have to go to that would stand on one wall and we have this opinion about the social security or this opinion about welfare, this opinion about affirmative action and on the other you of the other opinion. you can have mandatory questionnaires about what race and sex he would be the you had to fill out, and one freshman
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responded that is none of your damn business. i can't do that case justice. i spent about half a chapter on the university of delaware. excitingly i had my first article in the new york times. that happened on thursday and "the new york times" really wanted me to focus on the elite colleges and so i -- that's easy. i wrote a chapter on yale and harvard in the book. i mentioned one case since i'm so used to these cases at this point i was kind of surprised how powerful the response was. this was a case where harvard and yale have the gain and that's when they play in football. they make such a big deal but they like to make fun of each other and they usually have pretty crude slogans plastered on t-shirts to make fun of each other. one of them was you can't spell
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harvard without vd. [laughter] but in 2009, however, they decided to go highbrow with a quote from a 1920 book by f. scott fitzgerald, and the quote is i believe the men are sissies like i used to become a very pretentious like a lot of us extending about why am going to princeton as scott fitzgerald we agree. so they finally went highbrow in this fight and they were banned from having this t-shirt because someone claimed this was meant to be an anti-gang slurs. where does souci come from that is in the way that was meant in the book and if it was it would say all men are day like i used to be which is and what he was saying. [laughter] but most of all -- help me out
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here. to my knowledge anybody under the age of like 50 that is using this word is making an anachronistic joke like calling him a black doll or a cat. anybody i know calling somebody is a sissy is making fun of themselves but they are nonetheless them from having this on a t-shirt at yale, university, a private university but the promise to the students you shouldn't be allowed to mention the unmentionable and say the unsalable. it's really slurring the free-speech language but in f. scott fitzgerald's book was too far. they took notice of that. i am also proud of the fact i had a peace at the same time but my first piece i don't think a lot of people had a view in "the new york times" on this day and making the point all of the presidential debates took place they have pretty ridiculous speech codes and i have some fun
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pointing out that if you were to apply these to the presidential candidates by the plain language they all got in trouble for them and i made the argument i really wish they enforce them against the candidates because the reason that they are able to survive is because they are sort of kept in the back door when they needed. if they really were applied across the board they didn't last a day because frankly these things are so broadly worded that everybody is guilty of violating them. and i assume that most of you know this but i want to be very clear. the law is extremely protective of the free-speech rights of college students. extremely protective. obviously the american law is extremely protective of free speech, period on the campuses in particular cases coming out of the 1970's. the supreme court was very clear that the universities cannot
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restrict even highly offensive speech on campus. this is very clearly established. there's even been over a dozen i think legal opinions and dozens of challenges in the campus speech codes in the past several decades and every single one of them has been successful and has resulted in universities being forced by the court of law to abandon their speech code. but nonetheless, 65% of campuses of the three injured 92 campuses that we've surveyed in the most recent study maintain speech codes that are either unconstitutional public colleges or private colleges violate the initial promise of the freedom of speech. so i want to give you some examples of what i am talking about from this book. we've been able to do what is a speech code of the month now since 2005 on we have done it every single month and we are in no danger of running out of
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codes and that is so outrageous given that in the public colleges these are unconstitutional and not even a close call but jackson state university in jacksonville alabama, state university, no student shall threaten or degrade anyone on the university owned or operated property. anyone on the university property. every one of you is guilty of doing this at some point. sorry. at least able to be accused of doing this. at drexel university in philadelphia until they got the help of a student movement that included in its definition of harassment inconsiderate jokes and inappropriately directed laughter. [laughter] uh oh where did you direct that? so again everybody is guilty of this and you were going to leave it to administrators to enforce
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this. i do feel like the parallels between the campus speech codes and the victorian era are very strong and the gulf coast university simply has banned, quote on "expressions deemed inappropriate. just amazing. and i could go on and i do go on at great length about this. but do check out the book. then it comes more to the wacky political cases, one of the most classic ones and best known cases but nonetheless still well known as the case in indiana where a student and nontraditional student was published. he was found guilty of a racial harassment because he was publicly reading a book. the book was called motor dana versus the klan and was about the defeat of the klan when they marched on notre dame but because it had a picture of the rally related on the cover, she was found guilty of racial
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action because it made someone uncomfortable. the fact that he tried to explain no, it's not, it's actually against it is an antiplan but it didn't matter. that is all that mattered. and also it applies to the flat out political speech. we had some cases the houston state university, free speech will they were made to tear it down by the campuses and we have a video about that we work with them on that. and then of course there is the phenomenon of the free speech zone which some philosophy's don't know about. free speech zones restrict freedom of speech to the tiny areas on campus. one of my early experiences in fighting these was at texas tech university where the 20,000 students, one of the largest universities in the country for contacted by the entire war students that wanted to have a protest that was going and they
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were being told that they have to get into a 20-foot white gazebo which was the only place for free-speech activities on campus. the 28,000 students. i had a friend who has a master's degree from mit and he worked out if god forbid all 28,000 students wished to express themselves at once you would have to crush them down to the density of 2008. [laughter] i remember laughing at this thinking. it's called a reasonable time on the restrictions and i think it allows people to study things that actually disrupted them and they've always had the power to stop that stuff is nothing in the college telling them they're restricted to the point of the white gazebo. we also work with of the young
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americans for liberty on this case. the university of cincinnati had -- this is just this summer. they had a speech the was only .1 of the entire campus. .1% of the entire public campus was considered a free speech zone and you have to find -- apply ten days in advance if you wish to protest on campus. the libertarian student wanted to circulate the right to work petition that was a part of the ballot initiative the most time sensitive. since they didn't apply within ten days in advance the were told they were not allowed to that of the police would be called. now it's even worse because they had evidence this was only being enforced selectively maybe even in terms of the constitutional
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law. what is disturbing about this case is the university of cincinnati this year in 2012 decided we are going to defend this one in court. i don't think anyone would say that would be unconstitutional. i don't think any american would assume the restriction was unconstitutional on the public property at the university of cincinnati went to battle without and had something to do with a very unwise steps by the ohio government to say that it was something like $200,000 allocated to fight the litigation. we got that money we might as well spend it. but having to point out deciding to spend state money to defend the violation of the bill of rights against students think that through. and again this is why i wrote the book. this is why it happens all the time that one of the scariest things is that people have gotten used to this stuff. people were like i tell this to
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students sometimes it sounds kind of bad, but i keep my nose clean and i talked to my friends i agree with and everything is fine. so the goal in the book is to talk about how can this censorship whether you are a victim or not harms us all and the first reason is the chilling effect. the chilling effect is the idea if you know there is any risk whatsoever of getting in trouble for your opinion, 999 out of 1,000 people won't bother. i'm sure you've all had the experience of an opinionated professor. and given this group there have been a lot of other opinions i'm going to debate this guy but not everybody is like that. some students have to actually worry about important issues and they do. there's not a single hot-button
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issue in america that i can't give you at least one but usually several like symbols of somebody getting in trouble for being on the wrong side of it. and students are getting the message. there is a phenomena the professors had been writing about called the sign and classroom phenomena. you don't talk very much in class. and i've been reading articles about this for ten years now. actually more like 12 years now and it never comes up that they actually get in trouble for having the wrong opinion on campus. there's also the amazing american association and universities "the new york times" published my keys they went through the number of 24,000 students something like 9,000 faculty and staff and when "the new york times" piece went with the less dramatic number when asked the question do you
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think it is safe to hold the unpopular positions on campus, think about how weak that language is. only 35% of all college students in the statement and by the way if you only kind of think it's sort of safe to hold on popular positions on campus, that means you don't. but the worst number is the fact the of 35% cannot of the fact that 40% are freshmen that came in thinking of course it is safe to hold unpopular views on the campus but the seniors, it went down by 10%, it went down every single year. the freshmen were the most optimistic. only 30% strongly agreed in a statement that it's safe to hold on popular positions on campus. and guess what, the university professors were asked this question, too. 16.7%. only 16.7% of the college
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professors serve strongly agree that it seeks to hold unpopular views on campus. something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. i also make the argument in the book that this leaves to thinking skills to contribute to it. if you don't have to debate and talk about your possessions, you tend to not understand them very well. the reason i love to come to evens like this because i end up getting such greet students who really love the discussion i have because it is a quality you have to maintain. this is something that they were warning us about in the 59 book liberty. he talked about how even if you are totally right. you still benefit from freedom of speech because you tend not
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to understand why you're right when you are challenged with the opinions and what he said is if we don't have to face opposing opinions we tend to hold our believe the same way people told prejudices' they can't explain why they believe what they believe. and i feel like this is actually happening in our society. i believe this is leading into the larger society, and i make this argument. by all accounts we should be living in the old age of american discourse. more americans are college-educated and have ever been in american history. if the colleges were doing their job and making better critical thinkers, more nimble mind to take on opinions and better able to think the issues through, then we should be living in the ultimate best time for american discourse does anybody think we
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are living in a golden age in the discourse? and we should expect things to be better but i think that one of the things, one of the factors among the many that is impeding this is the fact that our universities are places where uncertain topics have to walk on eggshells. what is happening in this situation is not that people change their mind about what they believe, they just talk to people they already agree with and if there is one thing that is sociological if you live in the eco chamber you are going to get much more certain that your right with a lessening ability to understand what the other side is coming from coming and one of the things that is so frustrating about the society right now is that we have tightly packed ourselves and the eaglen chamber and another interesting piece of research in the book is the the more educated you are the tighter the echo chamber is. high school students have more arguments with people can disagree publicly, ph.d. is have
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the least. really dramatic information and that's also an unlearning liberty. another with this group as you like to seek out the intelligent person you disagree with, yet i think that is something our whole society needs to learn and that is what universities need to be teaching. it's a great intellectual habit. seek out the person that you disagree with, but you are a million miles away from that if you actually -- if you get it on the level that you get in trouble for having the wrong opinion. so, as i say in the book, simply, very simply, the downstream results of the censorship is it makes us all just a little bit dumber. end up not having the argument and to have come it hurts the discussion and insect legitimizing really cheap dodges whether it is i'm offended or what is your public about round whether it is a test in that respect or someone just what i call in the book selective relative as a man of tightness. these are all packets that we've
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gotten used to and the outrage which i believe i think the perfect if creamed off and the reason for the title of the book is unlearning liberty is the more frightening part of it. i'm scared at how use to the free speech zones the students are. watching the debate on the college campus where students were -- the totally accepted there should be free speech zone but then they proceeded to decide what speech should we allow in the free speech zone so they even wanted to sensor it in the free speech zone. this is a terrible education for the next generation. it doesn't bode well for the future of the rights of the students are not being talked with a brilliant innovation free speech, freedom of conscience, due process, how much we owe it
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to them and i'm afraid that the students are being educated in the environment that doesn't understand them very well either. so, and i think that the fire cofounder says it best as he says most things best in nation that does not educate liberty will not long endure liberty and will not even when it is lost. and i see that happening and it frightens me. so, before i take questions, i want to give you your homework if you choose to accept it. please, read the book to read all royalties go to a five-year, they don't go to me. this is for fire, for the cause of the free speech on campus, and i think that even if you think you know this issue well, you will be shocked by some of these cases. my new wife has been reading it and she was a little afraid to read it because she was afraid she wouldn't like it and she's been reading to me. i can't believe they did this to the student at north carolina. and i'm like awesome. it must be good.
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it's been very over seen so far. there will be cases that will make you angry and cases that will horrify you and there is a case in there that will just make you laugh out loud because it is that ridiculous. also, check out your own policies at your own school at thefire.org. we have a huge database of codes, over 400 colleges across the universe i was about to say. [laughter] check out your own school policy. there is a chance that you have a policy and most importantly, fight back to the don't accept this censorship as the normal. people are accepting it as what ever. don't. i've been so proud for the fact they've been putting up free-speech even though they get torn down by the way in a number of different campuses by the students. but to make the point that
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listen, we are going to talk and the sky isn't going to fall. we can be a treat people and i think he would be surprised at how smart 90% of what we have to say is and we should get rid of free speech because every so often might be offended by something somebody says, that is a small price to pay for a free society. so, as i said, fright fact, thanks for listening and i am opening it to questions. please, go to the microphone. c-span has asked if you have questions, please go to the microphone. >> yes, sir. the college and new jersey. we are fighting back there. i wanted to ask about something we seem to be encountering which is the students and administrators not just writing
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these codes, but they are enforcing the mets defeated the noble thing to do to take this on and say they are the do-gooders'. so i'm wondering if you have any specific advice for students or administrators that are trying to hold the high ground. >> the longer our home markets go listen to jonathan's speech at our campus freedom conference from a couple of years ago. he is one of the most thoughtful proponents of the freedom of speech on the lubber leading force, and one of the points that he makes in one of the things i make is that in a democracy you don't need freedom of speech to protect popular mainstream points of view, democracy does that. you need freedom of speech to protect the minority points of view. it's been about protecting the oddball that the center never
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apologize for that. there's also the argument some of these codes are very paternalistic and they are do certain students are weak to live with freedom and as we like to say anybody that tells you you are too weak to live with freedom is not your friend. for me it is i actually made a point of not using it in the word in this book because i wanted to make sure that there would be read. but it all comes down to the symptom ology. there is nothing more arrogant than to assume that you know so much about the universe that you can decide what wisdom will come from. even that crazy of bed and i watched a seven at stanford. there was a kind of conservative agitator the with sandy e-mails making fun of stanford for being antisecond amendment and produced a firestorm on the list people were quoting the opinions
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from the 19th century that we've never heard of. i talked about my friends that had been killed working with of the city high school kids and other people talk about their experiences with friends who had been killed and there was a personal deep discussion that we never would have had if not for that provocation and still at the end didn't we just see what's happening when we were talking about things we wouldn't have talked about other wisecracks free speech has a moral high ground. someone who claims that, you know, like i'm on the side of niceness and so devotee. they are on the side of their own power to tell you to say. they will never see that to them. >> i am john peterson to reply to the american university. >> my undergraduate all modern. >> like a lot of the private colleges it has restricted
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speech codes. and i know that you have talked a lot about the whole guarantee but there are a lot fewer tools that's harder to make the case for the free speech. how would you recommend that we go about that? >> i don't spend too much time on that because i write so much about this in their religion about the things in the private and public colleges but i answer this question a lot. the first amendment applies to the public colleges and it doesn't apply to the public colleges. there is something in the state of california that applies the standards to the california universities. but the private universities are bound by their own the promise. yale and harvard across the country promised freedom of speech in the language and these are enforceable contracts in most states in the union particularly massachusetts and new york by the way that is enforced and promises but it's not just the legal
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enforceability it is the moral power, and believe me, i know this from experience columbia, harvard, yale do not like being called off when they violate their own promises and the freedom of speech. america has been a little bit more about it and that is why it is good to step up the argument. it is harder. it is a harder road but you are holding them against their own values and people in that university you know they are wrong. but it is the harder fight and definitely to stay in touch with them to help you fight. >> i'm also at the american university. you have mentioned a lot about the cases in the universities that violated the free-speech law. canion and the universities that have model free speech codes in the first amendment? >> it's kind of funny because we rate the colleges according to the system i cannot with like i have no idea that it would still
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be around when they have a tiny little organization, red light, yellow light, green light so that cut about 55% talking about red light universities which mean they are really bad codes. that can be abused, it might not stand up in court but it's not the worst thing we've ever seen. we have something like to think it is 16 green light colleges? 16 green light, which is right now, and that is a little disturbing. but they do include some very good colleges. they include dartmouth for example, and i think that it's in the dartmouth is largely the effort of a bunch of alumni, so i can't point to a university that has a model speech. i can point to the 16 colleges on the web site that you can look at to see what they are doing right. yes, sir? >> i'm from cardoza law school
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and i'm curious about phenomena that has been occurring in the past may be ten years or so in which guest speakers expressing unpopular viewpoints that a lot of the university's have been shouted down not repressed by the school administration but by the unruly cloud, and i think that haven't to connelly in michigan for example. so i was wondering what sort of position, i can't imagine your position on that principle, let what sort of take you take on those incidents given that it's not the administration in the speech? >> i think it is pretty clear cut. it's kind of like u.s. is analogous to the u.s. government responsibility and there is a beautiful book called the people's privilege which tops out to leave the -- talks about the small the when they killed reverend lovejoy was an abolitionist. they killed him and they destroyed the press because they
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didn't like what he had to say. he pointed out in the moment when not only does the free speech mean they can't send to you but it also means they manage to protect you from the mall that wants to sensor you. 77 it is to make sure that the administration prevents them from happening and they do their best to prevent it from happening because it is a dual responsibility. the position is they can't let the mog sensor you. of a perfect example when the forces can together to work as one, and it is in the bucket is almost an unbelievable case, washington state university, a student wrote a play in the passion of the musical with of the stated goal of attending offending everybody. they put it on the ticket, they put it everywhere. do not come if you are offended. and the african-american student had the absolute goal of
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defending everybody and made a point of putting it out there. the university worked with students the pingree, and again it is a musical comedy. they bought the students tickets and told them to stand up in the middle of the plate and shout i am offended which is ironic because that was the point of the play. [laughter] but it got worse than that. it turned into students, you know, shouting death threats. it's predictable if you send the mall to the play and it's going to go a little badly. the university president of chollet defended the next day. the students that disrupted the play saying this is a very responsible exercise of freedom of speech on the part of the angry mob of the students come and just absolutely stunning that they've gotten that block by block and the censorship knows better than the campuses. yes, sir? >> my name is dave clemens.
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i was wondering if you see any room for the fire to expand into canada. is that i've spoken in canada before. were you at the speech? you look familiar. >> there is a great group of in canada. my whole thing is i think that the death of a nonprofit is to spread itself too thin and take too many things on so it's like people asking if we want to do the work in the high schools. i don't want them to expand to anything we've been working on american campuses and the free speech and due process issues because they will do the effectiveness if anybody wants to start a canadian fire, happy to get behind them and push. >> hello. i go to sarah lawrence college
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and one with not so great speech. >> you get a lot for your money. [laughter] >> i wanted to ask you specifically about health concerns when cited as a reason for censorship. people will bring up the fact that free speech may be triggering the folks that have gone through the dramatic incidents or are of a gender or race that could be offended by certain dramatic incidents and that that is put forth as the reason for censorship. >> i really haven't run into that argument often. and i usually make fun of the universities for their lack of creativity in coming up with excuses for censorship but that one is fairly new to me. and the thing that i found worry some is how the end up watering down things like medical reasons and how there was a policy i think in ohio that said sexual
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harassment takes place on the spectrum that includes anything from of colored jokes to sexual assault. and i remember being like okay you can't make a principal distinction between a dirty joke and you really have to reconsider your priorities. i'm trying to point out that this isn't doing anyone any favors if you were going to cry wolf on such a low threshold. it's a certain amount of toughness to be able to live as free citizens that requires there's no need to apologize for that and i have time for one more question. >> linus kathleen i'm a graduate from the university and columbia law school. i want to shift focus a little bit since you were talking more about the free-speech area.
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but you are seeing now is actively universities claiming to ret sue payton the program. you have to either believe in a certain set of ideas or practice and let's say performing certain procedures that you find immoral. as i was wondering how can students or alumni perhaps work to try to change those rules and since it is slightly different than the free speech code, you are talking about actual potential. >> you are totally right and i am glad you brought it up. this stuns me that i have to say this. but as bad as it is to tell people what they can't say, it is much worse to tell people what they have to say and what they have to believe. there is a whole chapter in the book talking about different cases. some of the schools of education and some are social work where the students were literally being required to lobby the government for positions they did not believe and in order to graduate. it is just absolutely startling. and i think that the best way to
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fight because we've been taking on columbia because it has a at its teachers college it has a commitment to social justice and its policy. now, when you say that sounds nice and they are like sure, in your own way you believe in. but when using it to anybody outside of the academia they are like it is exactly a political litmus test. there is no way that you can evaluate somebody's commitment to justice without actually evaluating what they believed politically and philosophically. and so the good news is that those kinds of violations in the contents even in the university's they don't seem to get there is something wrong with them that telling the students what they must believe in their heart everybody else does so they really work in those cases.
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that's all the time by half. i'm heading out to my 20 a high school reunion. thanks very much for having me. [applause] >> general what about the soviet union which if we attack cuba its gentry nuclear war [inaudible] we are going to be uneasy [inaudible] >> i want to keep my own people

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